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Argentina slams ‘NATO’ Falklands as UK gears up for war games

Published time: April 12, 2014 12:28
Edited time: June 27, 2014 08:24
Veterans of the 1982 Falklands (Malvinas) War and relatives participate in a ceremony at San Martin Square to honor the soldiers who died in the South Atlantic conflict between Great Britain and Argentina, in Buenos Aires on April 2, 2014 during the 32nd anniversary of the war. (AFP Photo / Daniel Garcia)

Veterans of the 1982 Falklands (Malvinas) War and relatives participate in a ceremony at San Martin Square to honor the soldiers who died in the South Atlantic conflict between Great Britain and Argentina, in Buenos Aires on April 2, 2014 during the 32nd anniversary of the war. (AFP Photo / Daniel Garcia)

Saber rattling over the Falkland Islands, the scene of a bloody conflict between Argentina and Britain in 1982, is on the rise as the UK prepares for military drills off the coast of the South American nation.

Reports that the United Kingdom will conduct military exercises on the Falkland Islands, known as Las Malvinas in Argentina, has provoked a harsh response from the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who has called the islands "NATO's military base" in the region.

Eduardo Zuain, Argentina’s deputy foreign minister, summoned the British Ambassador in Buenos Aires to protest the "new show of military force" on what Buenos Aires considers to be "occupied territory."

A spokesman for the Embassy of Argentina in London commented: "The Government of the United Kingdom will conduct military exercises on occupied Argentine territory…including missile launchings from the Malvinas Islands.”

The spokesman called the upcoming British exercise “provocations and hostile acts” on behalf of an “extra-continental nuclear power.”

"This action is a new example of UK's disregard for United Nations resolutions, which call on both parties to resume negotiations over sovereignty and refrain from introducing unilateral modifications in the situation as long as the dispute persists."

Residents of the sparsely-populated Falkland Islands voted by 1,513 to three in favor of remaining under British control in a referendum last year. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the results of the vote "could not have sent a clearer message."

The war games are scheduled to take place April 14-27.

Tensions over the Falkland Islands, an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean comprised of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands, have placed a strain on relations between Buenos Aires and London since the days of colonialism.

On April 2, 1982, the age-old tensions erupted when Argentina’s military junta invaded and occupied the islands in a bold effort to establish control over the archipelago, with an area of 4,700 square miles (12,200 square kilometers). The British government responded by dispatching a large naval task force and making an amphibious assault on the islands.

The encounter lasted 74 days and ended with Argentina surrendering on June 14, 1982. The war resulted in the death of 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and 3 Falkland Islanders.